Do not normalize transphobia in New York

Advocates band together to stand up for trans youth.
Advocates band together to stand up for trans youth.
Donna Aceto

The proliferation of anti-trans legislation across America has led to the normalization of transphobia in many parts of the United States, but New York — which boasts robust LGBTQ protections — has been somewhat insulated from that culture of hate. Several developments in the first few months of the year, however, have threatened to upend the status quo and inject transphobia into New York City and the surrounding area.

In January, the anti-LGBTQ group known as Moms for Liberty, which has promoted book bans targeting queer content, hosted an event in Manhattan, drawing a crowd of LGBTQ activists who denounced the group’s presence in the city.

In February, the county executive in nearby Nassau County, Bruce Blakeman, issued an explosive executive order seeking to ban trans athletes from participating in sports in accordance with their gender identity, setting off a firestorm of criticism and immediate action from New York State Attorney General Letitia James, who insisted that the policy was unlawful.

Then, in March, Manhattan’s Community Education Council District 2 shocked the city when its members voted for a resolution calling for a new committee to review and potentially oppose trans inclusion in school sports. As it turns out, a member of that council — Maud Maron — is already known for spouting anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and has ties to Moms for Liberty.

Most recently, queer activists who attended a Manhattan Community Board 5 meeting on April 12 called on its members to denounce the education council’s resolution and expressed fear that the wave of transphobia could spill into other corners of the city if New Yorkers do not take a stand against such hate.

While education officials have stressed that they will stand by trans athletes, it is clear that there is an effort to test whether New Yorkers have an appetite for transphobia. Moments of adversity will challenge the community’s ability to withstand attacks, but New Yorkers know better than to fall for bogus, Ron DeSantis-like attempts to justify transphobia under the guise of parental rights or, in the case of student-athletes, Title IX.

It is imperative that we stand against all efforts to sideline trans athletes or otherwise restrict the rights of individuals to be themselves, regardless of their gender identity. Transphobia may be normalized elsewhere, but that doesn’t make it acceptable — and under no circumstances should it be tolerated in New York.